Kakehashi founded Ace Electronic Industries in 1960, a manufacturer of numerous combo organs, guitar amplifiers, and effects pedals. He was also contracted by Hammond to produce rhythm machines for the company's line of home organs. In 1973, Kakehashi cut ties with both companies to found Roland.
As with many Japanese start-ups of the period, the name Roland was selected for export purposes as Kakehashi was interested in a name that was easy to pronounce for his worldwide target markets. Rumour has long circulated that he named his company after the French epic poem La Chanson de Roland. In reality, the name Roland was found in a telephone directory. Kakehashi opted for it as he was satisfied with the simple two-syllable word and its soft consonants. The letter "R" was chosen because it was not used by many other music equipment companies, and would therefore stand out in trade show directories and industry listings. Kakehashi did not learn of "The Song Of Roland" until later.